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Planning a Fourth of July fireworks show? Read this first.

The Fourth of July is a time to relax in the sun, have a barbecue, and enjoy the company of family and friends. It’s also a time of celebration and fireworks. This year, you’ve vowed to skip the crowds at the professional fireworks shows. Instead, you’re going to put on your own fireworks display.

You may think that as a smart, responsible adult, you already know how to properly operate fireworks. However, injuries incurred from amateur fireworks displays lead to thousands of hospitalizations each year—11,000 in 2016 alone. Before you start the show, take some time to familiarize yourself with basic fireworks safety rules:

  • Prepare for the worst-case scenario. Explosives are inherently unpredictable. A firework could fire in a way you don’t anticipate. Therefore, it’s important to always wear protective goggles and have filled buckets of water on hand.
  • Maintain a safe area. Keep your guests at a safe distance from you while you operate the fireworks. Never let children handle them.
  • Position and aim carefully.Light your fireworks from an area that is open and clear of flammable materials. Always fire them away from other buildings, people or animals. Never operate fireworks when under the influence of alcohol.
  • Avoid unnecessary risks. Only light one firework at a time. If you encounter a “dud” firework or one that doesn’t light completely, do not attempt to re-ignite it.
  • Follow proper disposal procedures. If you have any unused or “dud” fireworks at the end of the show, you need to be careful about how you discard them. Let them sit in a bucket of water for 12 hours. Then, while they’re still wet, wrap them tightly in two layers of cellophane. Now they are safe to put in the garbage.

Many fireworks-related injuries are preventable. By following the above recommendations, you can better ensure a safe Fourth of July for your family and friends.

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